The Elkhart Time Trial Series consists of 5 time trials throughout the spring and summer (April-Aug) and a race is held once a month in the buzzing metropolis of Elkhart, IA (population 357, yes there are lots of towns like this in Iowa where only 357 people live). The course is a flat out and back 12 kilometers (roughly 7.5 miles). The road runs north to south then you turn around a cone in the middle of the road and head back north towards the start/finish line.


The course record was set back in 2006 by Nick Frey, the same year he won an U23 National Time Trial Championship. Nick now rides professionally for Ciclismo Racing. He was most recently named the Best Young Rider at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Nick’s time back in 2006; 15:14, not too shabby. While others have come close to this record, no one has eclipsed Nick’s time. Dixie Chopper, the world’s fastest lawn mower, put up a $250 bounty on Nick’s record this year. The first rider to break the record wins the money, in a promotion titled, “Mow down a national champion”. I had my sights on the record.


I haven’t done the Elkhart TT Series since 2006. I know I have great power output but aerodynamics was always something to consider. After spending time in the A2 wind tunnel in Charlotte, NC, I had a better idea of what to expect on this TT course. I used the calculators on analyticcycling.com to help me gain a better perspective on the power I would need to generate in order to ride 15:00 on this course or 48 kilometers per hour. The dead turn at the far end of the course makes this a little more complicated as you have to regain speed as quickly as possible then get back in your aero position. From my calculations; on a calm day I would need to put out 380 watts to get to 15:00. Not a big problem, I put out 372 watts here in 2006. I know I can do my 2x15 min intervals up Mt. Lemmon at 370 watts, so another 10 watts for the same time shouldn’t be too difficult. I started at 7:06 PM and thirty seconds behind friend and training partner Matt Zepeda. In a TT, you have to get up to speed as quickly as possibly so a short sprint at the beginning and turnaround point is an absolute necessity. I cranked out a short sprint then got in my TT position. Immediately my HR spiked and I was gasping for air on this humid but cool evening. I made it to the turnaround cone in 7:20 so I knew I was good shape but there was a slight headwind coming back home towards the finish of about 4 mph. 4 mph wind is pretty calm but enough to make you work that much harder. I was going to have to take the wattage up a notch to make my goal of 15:00. I could see the finish line and knew it was going to be close, I just lowered my head and started cranking as hard as I could, pouring it on the pedals for the last few seconds. I crossed the line then looked down to see my SRM Powercontrol VI turn to 15:00. I did it. This was a solid effort for me today and just the workout I need to help me prepare for Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 9 days. My average power for the effort was 386 watts for 15:00. I included the data below.


Now I want to take a Dixie Chopper lawn mower to Coeur d’Alene and mow down the competition.


Bike: Specialized Transition S-Works (Red) size M

Wheels: Zipp 900 Clincher Disc, Zipp Zedtech 808 front clincher with ceramic bearings

Tires: Maxxis Cormet 700x23

Crank: Specialized S-Works SRM wireless 53/39

Groupo: SRAM RED

Helmet: Specialized TT helmet

Sunglasses: Rooly L/Vatican (gloss black/chrome)

Kit: Midwest Speed Merchants Speed Suit (short sleeve)

Shoes: Specialized S-Works 43.5

Shoe Covers: Midwest Speed Merchants


15 minutes of fame:

Duration:                15:00

Work:                     348 kJ

TSS:                       28.8 (intensity factor 1.073)

Norm Power:          386

VI:                           1

Pw:HR:                   6.55%

Pa:HR:                   12.59%

Distance:               7.348 mi

Elevation Gain:      13 ft

Elevation Loss:      13 ft

Grade:                    0.0 %  (0 ft)

Min Max Avg

Power:                    0          950      386      watts

Heart Rate:            115      178      169      bpm

Cadence:               23        113      99        rpm

Speed:                    8.3       33.3     29.4     mph

Pace                       1:48     7:12     2:02     min/mi

Altitude:                  1253    1260    1255    ft

Crank Torque:       0          1181    335      lb-in

Temperature:         71.6     73.4     72.3     Fahrenheit


Work Hard,



Mental Preparation for your “A” RACE


I am finishing my preparations for Ironman Coeur d’Alene and while my physical workouts are getting shorter, my mental workouts are getting longer. With most of the hay in the barn on the physical side of the preparation it is time to put more focus on the mental preparation for the race. This is the method I use to prepare myself mentally for racing.


1) Set Goals: setting goals is the first step to achieving success. You must know what you want before you can get it. I don’t care what you have for goals; the important part is a goal. We are all at our best when we are constantly striving to achieve a goal. We all want different things out of our racing experience so define what is important to you and write down your goals for the race. If you don’t set a goal, you won’t know if you succeeded. Your goal may be as simple as finishing the race, but that in and of itself is more than most people can achieve and can be the difference between you giving up when things get tough, or sucking it up, grinding your teeth, and finishing the race. Written goals are achieved more often than unwritten goals. It is a subconscious reminder of what you want to get out of something.


2) Focus on the process: this is a hard aspect for many people to master. When we race we tend to get concerned about our place and how other people around us are performing. While racing others and being competitive is very important to successful racing, it takes the focus off what you are capable of doing. Set a race plan and strategy in place and then execute that strategy. The process aspects that are important to consider are how you feel, what your effort is, your technique, and your strategy. For example instead of just saying you want to swim 21 minutes for an Olympic distance event, you should say I want to focus on staying relaxed in the water, keeping my stroke rate constant and my breathing under control. These all have to do with the process not the outcome. While your goal of swimming 21 minutes is an outcome goal there are many variables that may affect this outcome from coming true, the course may be long, the water may be choppy, and there may be a current. All of these things can derail the outcome goal of 21 minutes, so it is better to focus on the process of the swim and have goals to draft off another swimmer, or breathe every 3 strokes. These are goals that focus on the process of swimming and focusing on the process is really all you have control of while racing. Set a plan, make a process goal to execute your plan, and then visualize that plan being executed.


3) Visualize: this is probably the single most important step in mental preparation. Your mind cannot tell the difference between what is vividly and repeatedly imagined in your mind and what your body has actually done. Winning and performing at your best is a habit and it is a habit you can create in your mind. I like to visualize at night before I go to bed, I find this is the best time to enter into a relaxed state and it often carries over into my dreams, further programming my subconscious mind about winning. I take 10-15 minutes each night while I lie in bed and close my eyes and picture myself racing. I prefer visualization in the first person where I am actually racing (as opposed to third person visualization where you watch yourself racing). I find first person visualization is more accurate to how your body will actually experience the race. I go through every part of my race in my mind. I can feel the temperature of the water and how my arms feel as they stroke through the water. I can feel my breathing and heart rate. I feel the wind in my face on the bike and feel myself turning the cranks smooth and powerful with a relaxed upper body. I feel myself running smooth and in control, relaxed in the jaw and upper body. I feel each foot strike on the pavement and use my trigger words to stay focused and in control. Most importantly I feel myself crossing the finish line, raising my arms in victory, and the feeling of complete and total success.


4) Create a cheat sheet for your plan: I like to take a small note card and write down small key reminders of my process goals (and sometimes a few outcome goals). I use this cheat sheet to create my trigger words for racing. Trigger words are words you repeat to yourself when you race to help you stay focused and strong. For example, you may have triggers words on the bike like: Smooth, powerful, or strong. You may also have a phrase that you repeat to yourself: “keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’” One of my favorite phrases from a Limp Bizkit song. I use my cheat sheet to help me visualize what I will say to myself while racing and how I will feel.


Here are my goals for my upcoming race in Coeur d’Alene:


1) front pack swim

2) draft and stay relaxed

3) follow the bubbles

4) focus on my turnover rate

5) seamless transition to the bike

6) ride in the correct power zone

7) conserve and stay in control

8) stay in my aerobars as much as possible

9) stay on top of my nutrition plan, reminders to consume what is necessary

10) seamless transition to run

11) keep the run under control for the first 10K, build on the second 10K, run with guts on the third 10K, Bring it home and finish strong on the last 10K.

12) lean forward and use gravity to help me run

13) turnover

14) WIN!


Here is what my cheat sheet for each segment looks like:



Go out hard and in control

Settle into front pack

Follow the bubbles

Key word: Turnover



Keep HR under control and power in proper zone

Conserve matches

Drink, eat, and focus on food as much as possible

Key Word: Keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’



Stay relaxed and in control


Focus on cadence and leaning forward

Key word: Never gonna stop


Work Hard,



I get a lot of questions about triathlon pacing on the bike. It seems a lot of people struggle with proper pacing during a race. I won’t pretend to have all the answers but I will tell you how it works for me.


As an industrial engineer I learned a lot about manufacturing and how to manufacture thing efficiently and effectively. One of the keys to improved manufacturing is what we call level loading. Level loading basically means you want a constant stream of products coming onto the manufacturing line, flowing through the manufacturing line, and eventually coming off the manufacturing line. Now for proper level loading to work you need to start with the end result, which in manufacturing is your demand. Once you know your demand, you can calculate how many pieces you need to manufacture each day, hour, and minute. Once you have this figured out, you can start to level load the manufacturing. If I know that I sell 300 widgets a month (and I’ll use round numbers here) that means I need to make 10 widgets every day. Let’s say I have a manufacturing line that runs for 2 hours every day making widgets and the rest of the day is spent making sprockets or something else. If I have 10 widgets to make in 2 hours then I need to make 5 widgets in one hour, one widget every 12 minutes. This means that I must start a new widget every 12 minutes for the 2 hour manufacturing run of the widgets. If there are 6 steps to making a widget, then each of those six steps must be done within the 12 minutes. If it takes more or less than 12 minutes to complete a step you need to change the process of the steps. While it may take less than 12 minutes to complete a step, it cannot ever take more than 12 minutes or you will be behind at the end of the line. So level loading means you will have a new widget coming on the line every 12 minutes, and completed widget coming off the line every 12 minutes. Great so what does this have to do with my pacing on the bike?


When racing in a triathlon on the bike, even pacing is always the best strategy. I use an SRM powermeter to provide me the best data about my pacing when I ride. The SRM uses strain gauges in the crankset of the bike to measure torque and thus calculate power in terms of wattage. Just like manufacturing, the best way to get from A to B is to maintain a level load. This means keeping your wattage constant. While spikes in wattage are sometimes necessary in order to get up a big hill or ride into a strong wind, you have to keep the total number of spikes low and the wattage as constant as possible. To figure out your target wattage you have to start from the end, just like in manufacturing. The best way to figure out your threshold wattage and thus racing zones is to first get a proper bike threshold test from your coach, then second go out and ride a 40km Time Trial as steady as you can. If you don’t have a powermeter, you should buy one. It is the best pacing tool available on the bike. Let’s say you don’t have one and for some reason don’t want to buy one, then your next best option is using heart rate as a guide. Your coach can again get you a threshold test using your heart rate. The biggest problem with using your heart rate to pace is that your heart rate lags behing your effort. So your heart rate often rises too high after you already did too much work. So, back to the pacing. If you know your threshold power on the bike is 280 watts that means you should be able to hold 280 watts for about an hour, now you must also have a functional threshold test which is the 40km time trial to confirm that you actually can hold 280 watts for an hour otherwise you the numbers do you no good. If you can hold 280 watts for an hour then you want to try and race an Olympic Distance cycling leg at about 5-10% lower than 280 or 250-265 watts, maybe more if your training is going really well! The key to the pacing is not letting your spikes get out of control. You need to keep your power under 10% over your threshold of 320 watts. So if you are climbing a big hill, try to keep the power as constant and steady as possible. Try not to ride up the hill at higher than 320 watts and try not to ride down the hill at less than 230 watts. While it makes sense to put more effort into the climb, burning all your energy climbing so you have to coast the downhill doesn’t make much sense. That would be like having one manufacturing station that took 16 minutes to complete and another station right next to it that only took 2 minutes to complete (assuming the demand is 12 minutes per station as above). You would be overextending on the front end only to under perform on the very next station. If you average 400 watts on the climb and then coast the downhill you not only tire out your legs and inhibit your ability ride at your threshold, but you also jeopardize the remainder of your race.           Just like in manufacturing you need to know what your average time per station needs to be, and then you also need to know what your maximum and minimum time per station actually is. You have to ride the hill more conservatively and the downhill more aggressively. Keep the wattage constant and within your acceptable range in order the manufacture a bike split that is maximized for your ability level.

Work Hard,





Well…with the passing of Memorial Day, barbeque season is now in full swing. I love to cook on my grill. I have a great little patio deck off my kitchen that is perfect for summer grilling. Over Memorial Day I had my parents and sister over for a barbeque. I was grilling one of my specialties…Kona Burgers. Ashley will tell you that my cooking is probably best described as creative and messy. She can’t stand the mess I create in the kitchen when I am “working”. I guess that is part of the masterpiece. Lucky for me, she usually cleans the kitchen after I cook. So for Memorial Day I set out to make my special Kona Burgers while Ashley made one of her few signature dishes, green bean casserole. My Kona Burger is something I created back in college as a Hawaiian Burger and have since renamed in honor of my pursuit for Kona Perfection. The basics are simple:

90% Lean Ground Chuck (or Round, or Beef)

Worcestershire Sauce

Minced Onion

Pineapple Rings

Baby Swiss cheese

Amana Canadian Style Bacon (or ham)

South Union Ciabatta Rounds (or sometimes just a whole wheat bun)


The grilling all begins with the grill. I only cook with propane gas grills. No need to mess around with that charcoal stuff. Go ahead and argue with me about how your charcoal Weber grill is the best ever. I don’t care. I use gas for grilling and it provides consistent heat and easy convenience. The burgers require a medium low heat to properly grill. I let the grill heat to about 300-350* before I start grilling. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the temp by placing your hand over the grill and if you can keep it there for 5 seconds it is ready. I start with the ground chuck and sprinkle minced onion and Worcestershire sauce on top. I blend the onion and sauce into the meat and form ½ pound patties with the meat. Any good burger is at least a solid ½ pound, that way you only need one. I place the burgers and pineapple slices on the grill at the same time. I put the Canadian bacon on the top rack of the grill to give it less heat. I close the lid of the grill and let the heat build back up to 350* usually about 5 minutes. Once I hit 350* I know it is time to flip the burgers, Canadian bacon, and the pineapple slices. I close the lid again (if you’re lookin you’re not cookin) and let the temp rise again to 350* or about another 3 minutes. I will then get out the ciabatta rounds and place them on the top rack of the grill to get them nice and toasty. I will also place the pineapple on top of the burger and the Canadian bacon on top of the pineapple and let it drip some juice onto the burger. I will close the lid for another minute then turn down the heat to low and place the baby Swiss cheese on top of the burger with the pineapple and Canadian bacon. I’ll close the grill for a minute; let the cheese melt and then place another pineapple ring on top before placing the finished burger on the toasted ciabatta round and adorning with condiments. Grill these burgers right, under a medium low heat and you should have a medium-rare burger that is sweet and savory.


Grilling a good Kona Burger is a lot like cooking up a good race. You need the right amount of heat, time, and patience. You have to trust the grill to do the work just like you have to trust your training plan to do the work. Any self doubt in the grilling and you will be lifting the lid too often and draining all the heat, any self doubt in the training plan and the second guessing leads to insecurities or overtraining. Trust the process of your training and your coach. Use the grill thermometer to guide your grilling, and your body’s response to guide your training. Keep the lid closed and build up the heat, that’s when the real cooking takes place. So if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.


Work Hard,





I am in my final preparations for Ironman Coeur d’Alene and decided I wanted a nice test of my fitness and some good local competition. I signed up for the Bluff Creek Triathlon (a first year event) at Don Williams’ State Park near Boone, IA. I love the venue of this race; I did my second adult triathlon here at the Iowa Games Triathlon back in 2001. There are some great cycling hills in the area and some of the biggest hills in the state coming in and out of the Des Moines River Valley. This was an Olympic distance event but the bike leg was actually 27+ miles instead of the usual 24.8. The bike made one perimeter loop of the area and it just happens to be a little long so it made for a better race. No complaints here. I thought I would try my hand at breaking an hour on this difficult bike course.

I put in a nice warm-up before the race and was feeling good. The swim start was actually across the lake from transition so instead of taking one of the buses to the swim start I swam to the start line with Reed Rinderknecht. The water was cold at 68 degrees but much colder in the shaded spots of the lake. I was wearing my sleeveless Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit. The swim course was a very odd shape since the lake was not long enough in one direction to complete a full 1500 meters in a straight shot. I had some troubles navigating and sighting because of the odd angles in the swim. I had even more trouble sighting the swim finish after the last buoy. I was still out of the water about a minute in front of the next competitors. It was not my best swim, but some good open water practice. I was quickly out of T1 and on my Specialized Transition. I was riding my Zipp 900 Clincher Disc, and a front Zedtech 808. There were some strong winds on the bike, but my choice of wheels was still the fastest. I was a little sketched out flying down the river valley before Twister Hill at 50 mph with a crosswind, but it’s a race so you just go with it. Good thing my Specialized Transition handles like a professional calf roper, always in control. I was having some problems with my Rooly L-Vatican sunglasses since I grabbed the lens with my muddy fingers out of the lake right in the middle of the lens and I was having a hard time seeing clearing. Luckily the lenses clean easy and I was able to make an on the bike cleaning good enough to get me through the race. I was pushing big watts and feeling smooth and powerful. My new position was working well. The course was every bit as challenging as I anticipated and I was not able to break an hour like I hoped. I finished the bike leg in 1:02 and some change, the fastest on the day. I had a quick T2 and was out on the run. The course was deceivingly challenging. We had quite a bit of trail running and some adverse camber on the trail. I was running smooth and felt good, but the Ironman training has not seen much running at 10K speed, so it was a bit out of my comfort zone at the moment, just what I needed. I crossed the finish line in 2:01:20. I was pleased with my effort on the day. Patrick Davis from Ames finished second. He is a young budding triathlete with a lot of potential. Watch out for him in the next few years. Des Moines’ finest attorney/acupuncturist, Steve Brown, had a solid performance in the sprint event while he is rehabbing from a shoulder separation injury as he continues to train for Ironman Cozumel this fall.


I always love participating in the local Iowa race series events. My roots of triathlon are situated in these local events and it always brings me great joy to race amongst my friends and training partners.


Work Hard,




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